17 May 2002

Tourism devastated

CUMBRIAS tourist industry was devastated by the foot-and-mouth crisis, Chris Collier of Cumbria Tourist Board told the inquiry. Visitors stayed away from the area – put off by horrific TV pictures and reports of burning pyres of livestock.

Companies found themselves unable to save themselves from the risk of foot-and-mouth. The effect on businesses was like a tap being turned off, said Ms Collier. But the tourist industry in the region is slowly recovering, with many places reporting advance bookings for later this year, she added.

Jennifer Hogg, information manager at Appleby Tourism Office, criticised the governments message that the countryside was open during the crisis. Some visitors to Appleby saw terrible sights, she said. They went to the tourism centre and abused staff, saying the countryside should not be described as open. &#42

John Walker of Cumbria Crisis Alliance said nobody was on hand to represent or advise small rural businesses during the crisis. The alliance was formed in an attempt to win recognition of the devastating effect foot-and-mouth had on Cumbrian businesses and communities.

Mr Walker said he had worked all over the world and yet had never seen as much fear, frustration and anger as he had in Cumbria during 2001. Much of the hurt and pain had been swept under the carpet, he said. Other businesses were neglected during the crisis as farming was made a priority.